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matt garza cubsThe Matt Garza trade story simply didn’t have enough intrigue … or obsessive coverage.

According to simultaneous reports from Jon Heyman and Jesse Rogers, the Chicago Cubs and Matt Garza’s marriage may not end this month. Instead, according to the reports, the possibility of an extension for the impending free agent remains a possibility. The reports are relatively thin on details, offering mostly that the Cubs have kinda-sorta-maybe re-approached Garza with extension ideas.

Heyman, you’ll recall, reported two weeks ago that the two sides had ruled out the possibility of an extension, setting the stage for this here Obsessive Watch. Most believed that the Cubs and Garza haven’t seriously entertained the possibility of an extension in a very long time (Heyman says it hasn’t been since Spring Training 2012). Apparently there has been a reversal by the Cubs and/or Garza.

Why, you ask, after months of no extension talks (reportedly and presumably) would the two sides suddenly be discussing an extension? Well, the cynical response is that they aren’t really. The Cubs, you’d say, have just re-engaged Garza so that they can tell other teams, “yeah, we’re talking about an extension … better pony up if you want him!” You’d further point out that the fact that Jon Heyman and Jesse Rogers simultaneously reported these talks “according to a source” sure smells like a controlled leak for leverage.

Then again, you cynical rascal, I could counter that there is a legitimate explanation for renewed extension talks. The Cubs, having shopped Garza for a couple weeks now, have a very good sense of his value to other teams. They could then use that value – perhaps it isn’t as high as they’d like it to be – to tell Garza that, “hey, Matt, you know we love you. But the market out there for you simply isn’t what we hoped it would be. We may not be able to trade you, in which case, we’re going to have to make you a qualifying offer after the season. If you don’t take it, you saw what happened last Winter – your contract will probably be depressed dramatically. Sorry about that. But we’d still love to sign you to a reasonable extension if you’re interested.”

Something like that. The Cubs could also point to the lack of trade interest – again, this is all hypothetical, because I actually expect there’s a ton of trade interest – as a sign that the free agent market for Garza won’t be as robust as he hopes. Maybe he won’t get the huge contract he expects, and maybe he should consider a reasonable three or four-year deal with the Cubs right now.

In the end, do I buy that explanation? Eh. It’s around the same level of plausibility as a mere smokescreen. Keeping Garza on a team-friendly extension has always been the best possible outcome here. He’s 29, effective, and now looks healthy. The Cubs have a lack of upper-level pitching depth, and are going to need a whole lot if they hope to be improved in 2014.

But, for Garza’s part, you can understand why he’d want to test the market. He’s shaping up to be not only the best pitcher on the market, but one of the pre-eminent free agents. He could command huge dollars if he keeps pitching like he has been.

In the end, I suspect that we’ve got a combination of things going on here. The Cubs know they’re probably going to have to trade Garza, but they legitimately wanted to make one last approach on a possible extension. If they can get a deal that makes sense done with Garza, then great, they’ll do it. If not, then this one last approach also helps slightly with their various trade talks.

UPDATE: Adding legitimacy to the extension talks – or to the cynical leverage-building theory, depending on your bent – Ken Rosenthal now also reports that a Cubs source tells him extension talks have occurred. He says it’s due to the Cubs now being more comfortable with Garza’s health. Again, that could just be more leverage-building by the Cubs (“hey, worried teams: we’re so confident in Garza’s health that we want to extend him!”), or it could be a legitimate reason to re-assess.

  • Peter

    Would go well either way

  • mudge

    love it.

  • Jim

    I am a cynical rascal

  • Cast

    I personally would really like an extension.. Samardzija, Garza, Wood is a good start to a rotation. Plus with many thinking the Cubs would be a good landing spot for David Price, adding him to the rotation would make it one of the better rotations in baseball

    • Jono

      How would you order those top three? Price, garza, samardzija? Price, samardzija, garza? Samardzija, price, garza? Price definitely would be top 2. ….Mmmm, day dreaming cubs roster. Classic.

      • X the Cubs Fan

        I cant think of a pitching staff better top to bottom. Price, Shark, Garza, Wood and Jackson to start 2014 would speed the rebuild, we could seriously be in the playoffs in 2014.

        • Jono

          Thats it, cubs are going to the series next year!

          • willis

            HELL YES!! Let it be known Cub Fans!

  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    How about this. The Cubs may be seriously talking to Garza about an extension because they realize he is a hell of a keeper. As you have seen me post for some time, I view Garza differently than most anyone else on the roster. I do not want an umproven kid for him, I want an ARam or someone who the other team is willing to let go because they don’t want to pay the arbitration money to. If we can’t get a potential all star with a high upside, why do it? There is one thing with stockpiling, but with Garza I want a clear cut damn fine player in return.

    At the same time, it would also help them with a trade. Should they be talking about a trade it makes it a lot easier if they can say “This is the kind of money they are asking for” so the new team has data where they can anti-up more to the Cubs with the belief they can extend him versus rent him for the rest of the season.

    Gonna be fun to see how it plays out. If they keep Garza, is Price next?

    regards,
    5412

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very good second point there. Other teams would love to have that info.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Wait you’d trade Garza for someone like the ARam today or the ARam 10 years ago?

      • wvcubsfan

        Pretty sure he’s talking about A-Ram when the Cubs picked him up from the Pirates because he was about to be too expensive for their thin wallets.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Yeah that is clearer now… but these type of players are even harder to find due to the new CBA

        • Jay

          That trade and the one where he dumped Todd Hundley and got Grudz and Karros back from the dodgers will go down as Hendry’s slickest moves.

          • Rebuilding

            Jose Hernandez and Bobby Hill for Aramis Ramirez AND Kenny Lofton disagree

            • wvcubsfan

              That was one thing that Hendry did pretty well is get good value in trades. The JP trade was probably the only one that really hurt, but at that time everyone was clamoring for a lead off hitter.

              • BluBlud

                Lets not forget about Hee Soep Choi for Derek Lee. That trade was Grnd Larceny.

              • Rebuilding

                Hendry was a decent old school type GM. He did a nice job of robbing some teams at the deadline. The lack of focus on spending money in the draft (which wasn’t entirely his fault) and the issue you mention – getting guys like a Juan Pierre because we “need a leadoff hitter” – were his downfall. Very glad he’s gone, but he did build the best team in the NL in 2008

                • Jono

                  Is it all that hard for a big market team to build a roster that’s good for 1 or 2 years?

                • Bric

                  Agreed on your basic point but I think the Dodgers would argue with you about them being the best team in the NL in ’08 (even if Ramirez was totally juiced at the time).

                  In any case, Hendry was done in my mind that December when he traded DeRosa (the only player to give us a lead the entire series at 1-0 in game 1). At that time he knew he wasn’t going to sneak up on any other GMs and had to resort to insanely questionable signings like Milton Bradley and equally questionable trades such as the original Garza deal.

            • willis

              Hee Sop Choi for Derek Lee is about my favorite. What an ass kicking that was.

              Hendry, for his faults, would fleece teams more times than not on trades.

              • BluBlud

                I guess we were thinking alike.

                • Josho

                  Even on Garza deal, think Hendry actually did a pretty good job

        • 5412

          Hi,

          You are correct, I mean an ARam type player who has had some success in the major leagues and has plenty of upside potential.

          FWIW, remember when we got ARAM. They said the same things about him they are now doing about Castro. He turned out OK.

          regards,
          5412

      • BluBlud

        He is talking about the ARam of next year. Man, that would be a sweet return.

        • Jp3

          ARam a year older?😝 Next year’s Aram is one year older, can he walk then?

          • BluBlud

            Nah, but his increase in TWTW will help him get around the bases faster, even if it is in a Hoveround.

            • wvcubsfan

              Strap a cheetah to his back.

    • Nate

      This brings up something I have been thinking about. Price has been back for a couple starts and looks great. Will he be on the market and will it destroy the ‘Garza is best pitcher out there so we’re getting a huge return’ hopes of all cubs fans? Can anyone help with this?

  • The_Huch

    That a boy Theo- keep driving the price up!

  • willis

    Again, as good as these dudes are in the FO, they most likely can’t get value for value here. Also, they don’t want to be handcuffed for a bunch of years. I’d throw 3/$48-$50M at him with an option for a fourth year. That’s the best result at this point. If he scoffs at that, then you make the trade.

    • YourResidentJag

      I know there’s ifs on him staying healthy but if it’s a 3-4 yr deal and he can stay healthy, who’s to say they can’t trade him later with $$$ left on the deal.

  • Randy

    I think you’re right, whether for leverage or genuine interesting in trying to lock him up for slightly below market extension – Cubs are smart to try and get some control back, rather than field a bunch of lowball offers from teams thinking we’ll settle for a crappy return like the Marlins did.

    • Randy

      *interest

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Regardless of what the truth is you got love this play by the FO, there might be a very team friendly deal on the table right now like 4/55M with a team option for year 5/6 and Garza has to decide if he can really get the 80/90M deal out there or become the next player nobody wants to give more than 2/25M. I suspect he wants to become a FA and test the waters (I’m sure his agents have been feeling out the market quietly all year) but you never know he might just balk and take the guarantee.

  • Rich H

    I still think it is funny that Heyman went from saying they have discussed with no movement to this is the first discussion in 15 months. You can not have it both ways there journalism major.

  • wvcubsfan

    What I’m trying to figure out is where the idea that Garza has been injured often is coming from. The best I can remember he has been hurt once (last year) and had a set back in the rehab (this year). Not sure how that has transformed into “if he can stay healthy”.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      in your contract years that is all it will take to get people nervous, plus it was a non-specific issue. Any deal that is made will have some serious medical reviews

  • 5412

    Hi,

    If they keep Garza there is also a heck of a marketing benefit unless they get some real, recognizable value in return. Too many empty seats and season ticket holders taking a bath. If they keep Garza and only lose 90 games that is a sign of progress.

    regards,
    5412

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Garza alone will not fix or hinder the overall attendance issue. Building a sustainable winner is the only thing that will accomplish that.

      • willis

        I don’t know…Garza is a name and a fun draw for fans. I don’t think it’s a huge impact, but keeping him could show signs of wanting to improve and compete, which could energize the base a little. Not a huge impact but a few hundred tickets here and there. More so than if they were rolling Rusin or Raley out there to get pummeled.

        But yeah, winning and winning every year, that’ll bring the masses and more chaos than already exists in wrigleyville.

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    I’m telling you. It’s all already settled. He’ll be traded this year and resigned by the Cubs in the offseason. That way, Garza will help us land some prospects (and may land himself a ring), and then he’ll come back to Chicago on a team friendly deal that they’ve already agreed to.

    The FO is full of masterminds.

    • Dumpgobbler

      I wouldn’t count on it. Look at Iginla in the NHL.. If Garza is traded hes probably gone from the cubs for the rest of his career.

    • Justin

      Doubt it. If he doesn’t have the compensation pick over him I could see the Dodgers or Yanks paying him over $100 Million. I wouldn’t touch him at that price if I’m the Cubs… Garza’s camp knows this, the Cubs know this. Lets make a deal..

    • Chad

      Same thing was said about Dempster last year (and I said it). Never know though.

      • Austin

        Not saying Garza coming back or entertaining coming back is gonna happen, but word was that Dempster wanted to return and talked to the Cubs about returning last offseason before the Red Sox signed him

    • Cyranojoe

      Super unlikely, but that’d be fun.

  • Justin

    I am glad you wrote this Brett. I think the qualifying offer the Cubs hold over Garza’s head is a WAY bigger deal than people have made it out to be. As well as he’s pitched recently he’s not an ace, been injured a lot recently, and getting of the age where pitchers lose some stuff. Is a team really going to want to pay Garza a ton and give up their first rd pick? I have my doubts. I think a compromise on both sides would be best case scenario. 4 yrs $60 to $65 Million sounds pretty fair to me.. I would be shocked if he got that with the qualifying pick looming over him.

  • mak

    Man, I’d really like to believe that they could sign him — I think he has way more value to the Cubs than any prospect they are likely to acquire — but I’m not buying it.

    On the other hand, if this really was just a leverage play, its so damn obvious that I can’t imagine other GM’s really changing their stance because of it.

    • Randy

      These GM’s of contending teams HAVE to take it somewhat seriously, esp. with the qualifying offer card we have in hand.

      If they end up calling the Cubs’ bluff, and their team misses the postseason by a win or two it could cost them their job – depending on how hot their seat is.

      • Pat

        True. But if they trade three of their top ten prospects for Garza and the team still misses the playoffs, that could also cost them their job. I don’t think that many of the contending teams GMs are on the hot seat of make the ayoffs or else.

  • BluBlud

    Garza will want to be traded, I’m willing guarantee it. By being traded, he can avoid the qualifying offer, and maximize his free agency. He has no incentive to accept a deal from the Cubs right now.

    If I were Garza, i would tell the Cubs to trade me to a contender, let me try to win a ring, and in the meantime, I can avoid the qualifying offer. If you are guys are serious about a extension, then that means you guys will be serious about a contract offer in a couple months. If the price goes up because of no QA, then meet the price, if not, then i’ll go elsewhere. I really don’t see any benefit for garza to avoid a trade.

    • Justin

      If Garza’s number one criteria is getting the biggest contract possible then he absolutely wants to be traded. I think it’s safe to say that most people would be the exact same way (when talking about how much money he loses if he’s not traded). The qualifying offer is a huge deal to his market.

  • Michael

    It’s a great ploy to have teams step up their offers, I would expect that he will be traded soon. Some team who really wants him (Texas) will trade for him within the next few days. Now wy does he stay a Cub

  • Cheryl

    Could the teams they’re talking to have backed off the rental player aspect and have point-blank said – “You sign him to a extension and then we’ll discuss a trade.”

    • BluBlud

      No, I doubt that. Once again, where is the incentive for Garza to do a deal like that. When he is a free agent, and he has no tag attached to him, he can build a bidding war for his services, and at that point, maximize his dollar amount in any deal. Garza likes it in Chicago, so if he signs an extention, it will be to stay in Chicago, which i doubt he would even do. No way he signs an extention and then gets traded, plus i don’t even think thats legal. There would have to be a waiting period before he’s traded, I do believe.

      • Randy

        Agreed, plus it would look bad to any future free agent the Cubs would try to sign. Just like Jose Reyes and the Marlins

        • Cheryl

          You’re right. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

  • Chad

    I think 3 years for $40 and an option would be fair for both parties. Let’s not forget he’s an injury risk. I like Garza but I like cost controlled young players even more. I think the cubs are relying on a nice young arm out of the deal, but if you can get it done cheap enough I’m all for it.

    • Rebuilding

      There is just no way he is settling for 3 years/$40 million when Sanchez got 5 years/$85 million last winter and the FA market is even weaker this year

      • Chad

        I know it, but that is what I think the cubs should do. Don’t bend over for him, or for the other teams, like Hendry would have done. Anyone remember the returns Hendry got in trades? Me either cause they were non-existent. I know that a 4 year 55-60 would be more likely, but I’m still thinking that they need to protect themselves a bit.

        • Coop

          Even 4 years/$60mil would be rejected by Garza. Think you need to begin at 4 years minimum and $16 mil per year minimum to even get Garza’s attention. Still pretty sure he is gone. He isn’t going to sign a discount deal, so Cubs have to trade him.

  • Dawn Strand

    I’m selfish and relentlessly optimistic. I want to keep Garza on the Cubs because I believe we will be contenders sooner rather than later. I’m liking our farm system right now. If we need more pitching we can spend some money when the time is right and trade others for prospects. Keep him! Besides- who will be the clubhouse clown?

  • KidCubbie

    Does anyone know if there is any truth about the Cubs going after Taiwainees righty JenHo Tseng? I mean the Cubs are already in the red with all the other IFA’s. Just curious.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Post coming on that in a little bit.

      • KidCubbie

        Thanks Brett. I knew you would be on it.

  • brunsmk

    Garza, Wood, Shark, Jackson and a fifth starter (Baker, Vizcaino, Cabrera…). If you make the bullpen better this is a decent team again. Should be .500 this year, no reason they won’t next year. Have to assume better seasons from Rizzo and Castro as well.

    • Nate

      And 500 is about the worst thing that could happen to the Cubs. You gotta get bad to get good

      • Cubfanbob

        100+ years of being bad isnt enough ?

        • Randy

          Being bad had been mixed with terrible decision-making and bad luck for the last 100 years. At least the thoughtful strategic decision element has been addressed, up-and-up we go from here.

        • Whiteflag

          104 reasons its been a 104 years…give it a read.

    • willis

      Already have made the bullpen better this year. One or two more good pieces and it’s a decent pen. But you’re right, starting the season with those four penciled into the rotation is a damn good start. Out of the three names you listed, Cabrera is emerging as a real possibility. IF Vizcaino every pitches, he’ll be pen bound. I doubt Baker is back unless he comes for nothing after ripping $6 million (or whatever) from the organization this season for zero results other than being hurt.

  • Larry

    Garza has been great the last 5 games, but in the 3 years he’s been with the Cubs, he’s 19-18 and missed a great deal of time with injuries. Not sure we should react on 5 games and end up with a possible Soriano type contract.

    • Bails17

      19-18 means what? No reason to even look at his W/L.

      ERA Approx 3.50
      WHIP Approx 1.20
      K/BB Ratio Approx 3 to 1

      Sure he missed about a half a season in the last three. But they were being very conservative in their approach as well. Dude can flat out pitch.

    • wvcubsfan

      Who’s reacting to 5 games?

      2011 – 31 starts, 198 innings, 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9 K/9
      2010 – 18 starts, 103 innings, 3.91 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8 K/9

      That’s pretty solid numbers there and not based on a small sample size. He’s had one injury that caused him to miss time. If we had a true ace, a solid #2, a great #3 and a handful of #4 type starters then sure let him walk. He’s much more valuable to the Cubs for the next 3-5 years that most of the players we would bring in a trade IMO.

  • Hawkeye

    I am very much for extending Garza. Everyone loves the exciting idea of prospects but we need to field a team next year as well and if we have a total fire sale we will be worse next year than this year. For me it time to hold onto pieces that could contribute within the next few years and Garza is one of them. I feel he’s not as easily replaced as many think.

    • YourResidentJag

      Especially when I keep hearing that the prospects could likely be coming from the Giants. Just not enamored with their farm system. I also think if Harrison is healthy in Sept (and it is a gamble, I know), no way does Texas trade Perez. As I’ve said, Harrison is like Texas adding a viable FA.

  • cubs2003

    This could easily be a leverage move, but at the same time it might be legit. I wonder if ownership is starting to give the FO a little nudge. I caught the end of yesterday’s game and it looked like the stadium was more than half empty on the Sunday afternoon of basically a holiday weekend. They can’t be too happy about that. Who on the market would replace Garza for cheaper? They have more medical info on him than any other team, so maybe they’re confident about his health. If they’re convinced he’s healthy I think it’s wise to at least give it a shot unless you’re getting MLB ready talent in return or some great prospect haul. A good rotation isn’t a bad thing to build around.

  • Coal

    If they are going the route of trying to convince Garza that he’s not worth as much in trade as he thinks he is, I *definitely* think they should let him listen in on some of those calls.

    • BluBlud

      I would not suggest that. It happen last year with Garza and I think that is one of the most disgraceful things this FO has done. It’s bad business, and if they did it again and it gets out, It’ll hard for them to get another deal done in the future. Lets stay classy

      Plus, other team’s GM are going to talk down your prospects anyway, so that they can talk down their price. So you can’t really put a player on a phone call and expect them to believe what an opposing GM has to say.

      • Coal

        I was kidding. That stuff last year was pretty bush league, or at least the fact that it got out was.

        • BluBlud

          I meant to say it happened last year with Dempster, and yeah, it was pretty Bush League. Not a good look for our FO.

  • Hawkeye

    I also get tired of the Soriano references. Yeah, it’s a bad contract, most teams hve a 1 or 2 of these. But he hasn’t been a Adam Dunn type bust. We have so many fans scared of paying players ( not our money ). Realistically to contend for World Series you need to give out large contacts here and there. As far as a W/L record for a cubs pitcher, you be hard pressed to find any pitcher in the league that would significantly of .500 with the offense and bullpen we have had.

  • ssckelley

    Brett if the Cubs resign Garza and not trade him you might be able to sneak in a couple of naps during your blogathon.

  • BABIP (MichCubFan)

    I don’t really believe this, but if we were to sign Garza to an extension…that would definitely signal a run at competing next year. Our roster is kind of in an in between mode right now and it would be interesting to see what they would do to improve our offense and bolster our bullpen.

    But this really just seems like a leverage tactic. Hope we get some good upper level talent for him.

    • willis

      I agree with this. You got to think you have Castro and Rizzo kinda sucking this year, Soriano is doing ok, DeJesus hurt, and a God awful pen…yet the team is in position to win damn near every game they play.

      Little by little you are patching a decent pen together, you sign Garza all you have to do is look for a #5 next season, and you’re down to adding a bat or two. Boom, contender.

      But I’m afraid we’re dreaming here.

      • Justin

        Yeah Castro sucking balls this yr, and Rizzo not playing that well defenitely makes it hard to see the Cubs being a contendor next yr regardless of what happens with Garza. I just hope those 2 turn it around the 2nd half. They have really been a pain in the ass to watch.. Castro way more than Rizzo….

        • X the Cubs Fan

          They’re both adjusting to being the big shots in the lineup they aren’t getting protection besides each other.

  • Rich

    With all the twitter and internet false rumors…I would say that Garza is really gone now.
    I would like to have him, but in my humble opinion he is going to the American league – soon.

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